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Author Topic: How much pasture land for how many cows? Numbers
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How much pasture land for how many cows? Numbers    (Posted Wed, May 9 '07 at 08:24 UTC)

Hi Everyone,
I'd like to know how much acre of pasture land would be needed for x number of cattle/cows. PA/NY/NY region.
Or.. if you have 5 acre what is the maximum number of cows allowed to have enough food for all them...grass feeding etc.
Just trying to learn and find out things.
Also what about food for winter for the cows. How much and what is needed to feed them organically.
I am a newbie.

Re: How much pasture land for how many cows? Numbers    (Posted Thu, May 10 '07 at 04:25 UTC)

Probably 1-2 full size head on 5 acres. For small breed/miniature breeds you could do 2 head per acre, so 8-10.
Re: How much pasture land for how many cows? Numbers    (Posted Thu, May 10 '07 at 08:04 UTC)

thank you very much. Wow....
I thought it would be more...anyone else who has some experience or answers on this?
2 full size cows for 5 acres...Is that because there is just not enough food?...I guess so? How to feed them in winter? Buy hay in advance?? What would one have to grow on his own farm to feed them through the winter...? Grow grains and then dry the whole plants?
Sorry for so many questions...
thanks for anyone who has answers

 De Kalb Junction
Re: How much pasture land for how many cows? Numbers    (Posted Thu, May 10 '07 at 09:44 UTC)

On the wintering of your animals, they will need some kind of lean to or shelter from freezing rain and wind. You can purchase organically raised baleage ( bales of wet hay that are wrapped and are of a higher protein content than dry hay) or dry bales in advance and store them for the animals. Talk to your local Cooperative Extension agent about how many bales you may need. Salt and minerals should be provided for as well. As to growing enough on your own place, you could plant oats or some small grain to harvest but unless you are harvesting by hand will need to collaborate with a local farmer to plant and harvest for you. There are many magazines out there that may help. The Stockman Grass Farmer or American Agriculturist are a couple that might be of some interest to you. Hope some of this may help.

8 O'clock Ranch

8 O'clock Ranch Pastured Meats, Eggs and More 315-347-4352
Re: How much pasture land for how many cows? Numbers    (Posted Thu, Jun 28 '07 at 03:24 UTC)

When standing in the middle of it 5 acres may seem like a lot of land but when you put grazing animals out in it it quickly shrinks. And when you let those animals graze that area as one pasture they will pick it over, taking the choicest pieces first, and will continue to go back to those areas again and again thereby overgrazing it and ruining it. If there is any way to divide that pasture so as to give the cows a smaller area to graze they will be forced to eat the less desirable forage (watch out for toxic plants), utilizing more of your pasture. You will have to move the cows to fresh pasture every day or two though so they won't overgraze and ruin your forage base. Having such a small space you will want to implement some type of pest management too. One way to do this would be with free range chickens. The chickens will scratch through the cow patties and eat any bugs, grubs, worms, etc. in the patties reducing parasites that your cows may come in contact with. Also, the chickens will scatter the patties (livestock won't graze spots containing dung). If you don't want chickens running you could mow each area right after moving the cows to scatter the patties. This will also help eventually rid the area unwanted weeds.
Hope this helps!

deb arends
Re: How much pasture land for how many cows? Numbers    (Posted Thu, Jun 26 '08 at 09:14 UTC)

Here's a Video on Forage, it's geared more towards cutting hay, but it's got great info about when grass is best for the cow to get the most nurtrients from it ultimatly.

Preserving the Forage:

Forage Quailty

I know this doesn't answer your question directly but there's still some good general info about the whole rumient process that I found usefull when I was starting out.

Re: How much pasture land for how many cows? Numbers    (Posted Fri, Jun 27 '08 at 03:06 UTC)

Joel Salatin will do around 40 per 2 acre paddock but he moves them every 18 to 24 hours. So for you to do that many you would need around 90 acres or 2 to 3 cows per acre. you would feed hay in the winter so would have to have storage for the hay as well as a barn or shed for the cattle so they can get out of the weather year round. Also you do not want them on the 5 acres at all in the spring when it is cold and muddy and the grass has not yet broken dormancy/is still young. If you put livestock on pasture at the time of year you lose all the pasture for that year.

Lucy Goodman Boulder Belt Eco-Farm Eaton, OH
Re: How much pasture land for how many cows? Numbers    (Posted Mon, Aug 4 '08 at 11:57 UTC)

Would this ratio also be true for cattle/acre in south-central wisconsin?

Re: How much pasture land for how many cows? Numbers    (Posted Mon, Jul 27 '09 at 04:08 UTC)

do not know

lary jacobs
Re: How much pasture land for how many cows? Numbers    (Posted Wed, Feb 3 '10 at 02:15 UTC)

ya I actually just found this site and love it so far! I am studying environmental law and was wondering if there is a legal limit to how many cattle per acre you can have. And if so how many?? Thank you much whoever can help me!

Re: How much pasture land for how many cows? Numbers    (Posted Wed, Feb 3 '10 at 05:10 UTC)

Check with your local extension office and inquire about their pasture management seminars.

The officials say: " 1 cow/calf pair" per 2 acres.

Hope that helps. Considering your area has snow cover for a time during the Winter, I would suspect you would have to feed "organic" or silage at some point.

Desiree Rutherford
Re: How much pasture land for how many cows? Numbers    (Posted Tue, Mar 16 '10 at 05:10 UTC)

I just bought a home on 5 acres and am looking to put a couple cows on it. I had planned on getting 2 or 3 at the most. Approximately 4 1/2 acres is fenced off in two different pasture areas and there is a third small holding area. I just read the post that you don't want cattle on the pastures in the spring. If that's the case what do you do with them? I haven't raised any cattle as an adult and don't remember as a child my father having the cattle pinned in the spring. Please help cuz now I'm lost!!!

Thanks! Katiydid
Re: How much pasture land for how many cows? Numbers    (Posted Sun, Feb 19 '12 at 01:25 UTC)

Cattle and horses can severely damage pasture plants in the spring. If you have ever watched them walk on soft ground, you can see why. The hoof simply glides under the top inch or so and slices the plant at the root. Pasture is a relative term. What kind of plants are growing in the pasture? Are you going to pick or break up the manure or let it kill the plants? If you have thistles growing, the animals will eat the good plants and you will have thistles galore because there will not be any competition. If it is dry when you purchase the animals, you can go through your pasture pretty fast. Once the plants are killed, you have to keep the animals off and reseed it (and hope for rain). I would not use a book as a reference, drive around and look at how the farmers in your area are feeding their cattle. If they are on pasture and there are not any thistles then they are mowing or spraying. I raise sheep which will eat everything except thistles. You must also rotate the animals off of the pasture so that they do not reinfect themselves with worms. Three weeks on/off is a good rule. To answer your question? All animals need a backup feed source. If they don't eat it, then your pasture is better than the hay. With the rain we have had in the last few years I would not put more than one full sized bovine per two acres. And be prepared to reseed your pasture every few years.

 Pastured Acres
Re: How much pasture land for how many cows? Numbers    (Posted Tue, Apr 23 '13 at 07:44 UTC)

Joel Salatin, Polyface Farms, approximately 200 square feet per day for two cows. Using the Managed Intense Grazing (MIG) model for rotational grazing and moving the cows daily each afternoon (4 pm) and not returning to the first paddock for 30 days should suffice. Of course there are numerous variabals. Quality of pasture, rainfall, cow has calf at side, etc. Each pasture is different, the objective is no more pasture than can be consumed in on day, and of course, they should not pasture below 3 - 4 inches remaining and return before returning to seed bud stage. The 28 - 30 day rest period allows the pasture to go through its regrowth cycle. There are numerous YouTube videos of Joel, check them out and go to his web-page. Hope this helps.

Ted Inwood
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